gothwalk: (Default)
( Jan. 28th, 2008 01:54 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

There’s a fascinating article by Walter Kirn in November’s Atlantic Monthly, called The Autumn of the Multitaskers. It basically argues that trying to do multiple things at once is a fad of the current era, possibly caused and definitely accentuated by conceptualising the brain as a computer. And further, it seems it’s not good for you. There’s a level at which this appeals to me, because I’m very bad at multitasking. Unless I carefully prepare myself for it, I have difficulty switching from one task to another without a few seconds of blank staring in between. And if I do the preparation, then neither task is really done to the best of my ability.

There’s an argument that this is a problem most men have; women seem to multitask better. I can barely walk and engage in a sensible conversation at the same time; many women seem to be able to do both as well as, for instance, send a text message. I don’t know many men who can multitask well.

This is somewhat belied by the fact that as I write this, I have earphones on and am listening to my current favourite genre of epic metal music, and am holding two IM conversations at the same time. The music, however, isn’t really a distraction; it’s partly in use to block out surrounding conversation and noise from the workplace, and partly to make me comfortable - I’m not actively listening to it. The two IM conversations are about prosaic, day-to-day items in the workplace. Neither of them is requiring much from me other than quick bursts of information I have no trouble recalling.

Part of the Getting Things Done method that I’ve been trying, with some success, to stick with, is a principle that having other stuff in your head, background tasks, prevents you from getting on with the ones in hand. The solution there is to dump everything you can think of out to a set of lists, where you can come back to them later. In other words, you can concentrate better if you’re not multitasking.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the narrator is a bit horrified by a motorbike repair shop where it’s clear that the employees are doing more listening to the radio than concentrating on their work, with poor work being the result - and moreover, it’s poor work that they’re not aware of; they think they know what they’re doing, and doing a good job.

I don’t know if I believe that multitasking is bad for you, but it’s an interesting line of thinking.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Nov. 16th, 2007 12:32 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

The general lack of usefulness of careers guidance teachers has come up a lot in conversation recently. I know that the one we had in school was, while well-meaning, absolutely no use - it should, for instance, have been perfectly clear to anyone who looked at my academic record that I was more suited to arts than science, but she went along with the standard view of “intelligent boys should do science”. Although, being honest, she was a nun, and had other priorities; the number of guys in my class who reported that they’d been told she believed they had a vocation was impressive.

But thinking about it, what the hell can they do? How do you determine what a 16 year old might be good at, when a sizeable fraction of the jobs potentially available at 22 don’t exist yet? “Game testing” is now a perfectly valid career path - I know three or four game testers - but anyone proposing that in the early 90s to a careers guidance teacher would have got a blank look, and from the better ones, a gentle reminder of reality.

The job I’m doing now did not exist at all when I was 16, and barely existed by the time I was 19. I’ve been around for the invention of it, essentially. Most of my friends work in jobs that similarly did not exist. Careers guidance teachers did not know terms like “systems administration” in the 90s, “computer programmer” was barely on the horizon in their terms.

And it’s not just my techie friends, either. I can see a guy right now through the office window who’s cleaning the stonework with a very high-tech looking steam gun. He looks like he’s enjoying his work. Given that he’s driving a very shiny black SUV, with a registration plate from this year, I’m thinking he’s doing pretty well too. But I’ll bet his careers guidance teacher did not say “steam-cleaning stonework for corporate buildings, son, it’s a licence to print money”.

Go back another ten years, and the default assumption was that most of us would do the same jobs as our parents. I went to school with kids who lived on farms that their families had owned and worked on for four generations. The concept that any of them might not be farmers was both alien and unwelcome. There were a few non-farming families; instead, they’d been shopkeepers, steel cutters, or carpenters for similar lengths of time.

So, given that by the time the kids currently coming out of 2nd level education get into employment, the jobs they are doing will be things like “search refinement engineer” or “nanotechnology compensator”, or “bioinformatics controller”, or whatever, how can careers guidance counsellors possibly do anything useful? No wonder they’re all bitter.

And yet you can’t just get rid of them - kids need some guidance about college courses, or they’ll end up opting for an easy course in whatever college their best friend is going to. So… how do you offer careers guidance these days?

gothwalk: (Default)
( Oct. 8th, 2007 03:30 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I borrowed a book from the library a few weeks ago, called Getting Things Done. I’ve been poking at a few of these marketing / business / management / organisation books lately, because I’m pretty certain my use of time hasn’t been what it could be.

This book has blown me away. It’s got some very simple principles, no corporate gibberish, no affirmations, and completely dodges the “prioritising” bullet in favour of context.

The basic idea is that people have difficulty getting things done because they have too much in their heads. You sit down to answer an email, and find you need to research something, which means you have to ask someone, which means you have to send them an email, and then you see another email reminding you of a meeting, and all the while you’re aware of another project that you’ve done nothing on, and the need to buy milk on the way home.

The simple solution is to get everything out of your head and onto a very simple system of tracking things that need attention. This centres around making a great whacking list of projects, working out what the next action is on any given project, doing it if it’s short and easy, or putting it on a contextual list otherwise. The contextual lists could include things like “Near phone”, “Near computer”, “Things to buy”, and so on.

The idea is that once you have everything you need to attend to in some sort of trusted system, where you’ll be reminded of it at the right time, you can get down to what you’re doing in the moment without wasting RAM, as it were, on irrelevant things. If something does come to mind, you put it in the appropriate place in the system and go back to your current task.

The effect is rather stunning. I don’t have a huge amount of stuff to manage with this in work; we have an excellent project manager who makes sure we don’t have to bother with anything other than the task in hand, but I have a good-sized pile of projects at home. 78, actually, at the moment. The difference it has made to have these out of my head is absolutely huge, and I’m getting things done at a rate of about three times as many per day as I was before, with more time to kick back at the end of it.
So yeah. Huge recommendation for Getting Things Done.

(WikipediaAuthor’s Site)


Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I’ve had this conversation a few times recently with various people, and I figured I’d get it written down. I don’t like podcasts. This is not because I have some concealed Luddite tendencies, nor because I’m looking for something popular to dislike and be controversial over.

Putting it simply, podcasts are slow, irritating, and inconvenient - a step backward from the efficiency of text. No, I don’t like radio either.

Slow: I can read way faster than anyone can talk. I can read the transcript of a podcast in less than a quarter of the time it takes to listen to it, and that assumes the speakers aren’t stopping to hem, haw and um their way through a conversation. My time is valuable to me - give me the transcript.

Irritating: With at least one podcast I listened to a while back - and this was a twenty-something Irish male - if you removed the word “like” from the stream, it would have been about half as long. Other accents can be difficult to understand, or just plain unpleasant, and people who are perfectly well able to express themselves in text end up incomprehensible in speech. Sound quality isn’t always what it might be, and having to listen very carefully to make out what someone is saying is, well, an irritation.

Inconvenient: First, I have to get the podcasts onto some piece of equipment where I can hear them. Since listening to voice takes a huge amount of my attention, I can’t do that in work, and I usually have better things to do at home, so it has to be something portable. I have a small MP3 player, but the rigmarole of downloading the file and transferring it to the player and so on is tiresome. Then, unless I actually am concentrating all the time, I miss bits. I can’t just look back up the page; I have to rewind a bit, and hope I got the right spot. Neither can I easily flick forward through the bits I’m not interested in. “45 minutes in” is no use unless I can see a timer, and my MP3 player doesn’t have one. For that matter, finding 45 minutes in on Winamp involves messing with a slider.

So, in essence: give me writing, dammit. Sound is for conversation and music.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Sep. 14th, 2007 08:43 am)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

There’s a story on SEOmoz at the moment, detailing how an “upper member of regional management” in a radio company told employees that:

if you want your page to show up in Google, you need to pay, say, $30 to be listed on maybe the 200th page, but you can increase your bid and show up on the 7th or 8th page, and you can pay even more to show up on the first page of results.

Good gods. And this guy’s company have a “partnership with Google”. Now, chances are, given this guy’s comprehension of how search engines work, that the partnership consists of carrying Adsense ads on the company website, but even so… the level of sheer misunderstanding that’s in there is unbelievable.

I know, at some level, that this is one more manifestation of the news-reporters-know-nothing-about-my-area phenomenon. This is the one where, when there’s a news report on your area of expertise, you cringe and shout at the TV, “that’s not how it is, you idiots!”, but then in the next report, they’re talking about someone else’s area, and you’re going, “well, it’s on the news, it must be true”.

The thing that bugs me is that if this guy - and the newsreader - can get things so utterly wrong about areas they’re not familiar enough with, it follows that I must be, on a near daily basis, producing statements that are so far from being accurate that they’re out of sight. And I don’t know. I try hard to be accurate in everything I say. So, uh, if I’m spouting bullshit on something (aside from the times I’m winding someone up, mind, in which case you’ll just spoil the joke), could you do me a favour and call me on it?

gothwalk: (Default)
( Jul. 2nd, 2007 03:58 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

So we’re just back from a week in Finland. Most of it we spent at Nina’s homeplace, or at her grandmother’s house, but we were in the towns (cities?) of Lahti and Tampere for a few hours each. I’ve not been in Tampere before, and I had a completely different impression of Lahti this time round, so I wanted to write a bit about each of them.

Lahti is more of an infrastructure hub than anything else, so there’s no university there (although there’s a college), nor any port or notable natural features. So it’s generally regarded as being a bit grey and dull. I’ve only been there in summer once (possibly twice) before, so my impressions of it have usually been in the depths of winter, and haven’t been all that positive. This time, though - and I’m waiting for the Finns reading this to give me some funny looks - I was very impressed.

Partly with the shops, which had an impressively wide range of magazines and books in English, and a hell of a lot of music I like, at more than reasonable prices. The Free Records shop had a pile of melodic metal at under ten euros an album, and pretty much everything Iron Maiden ever released. There was also a branch of a craft-and-small-furnishings chain, Tiimari, which had a stunning range of papercrafting goods, paint, picture frames, boxes, and stationery - such that I had to pull myself out before I bought the whole shop.

And then there were the non-mainstream kids. Any other time I’ve been in Lahti, it’s seemed to be a very mainstream city, with most of the kids (or people in their twenties, Finns all look young to me) wearing fairly ordinary clothes - or in the case of the usually rather grouchy looking eighteen-year-olds, military service fatigues. This time, the first thing I saw getting out of the car was a bunch of skater types on a corner, and I saw a wider variety of goths and punk types than I’ve seen in one place in years. I know that goth, rock and metal music are closer to the mainstream in Finland than in Ireland and the UK, but I’ve not seen anything quite like this before. Even in the department stores, there were people wandering around in clothes that I’d have considered killing for ten years ago, and one girl in a bookshop was wearing thigh-high boots with more buckles than I could count. The one guy I saw in military kit was carrying about six huge shopping bags for his girlfriend, and was putting on a brave smile every time she looked at him. So I got a much more positive impression of Lahti than I ever have before.

Tampere got itself off to a good start when we flew into it, since the airport there is a small regional one. It’s small, pleasant, and has no messing around or extra procedures. The town itself is a university town, and that’s evident in the range of shops as well as the bars and cafes. There was one cafe - Café Europa - which was done out in an antique style, with old furniture, pictures and books, and a pile of boardgames behind the counter, which made me want to take the whole place home. And the local games shop - a branch of Fantasiapelit, which I’m familiar with in Helsinki, had friendly staff, a gaming table in full swing, and a range of goods I’ve only seen exceeded by, well, the Helsinki branch. They even had a copy of Burning Wheel on the shelf, though they don’t any more, since it’s here beside me. For future investigation, there’s a Viking restaurant, and a decent-looking sushi place as well.

So, yeah, rather impressed with both towns, and inclined to wonder again why Irish regional towns are such awful places in comparison.


Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I’m pleased to point you all at Nina’s site, Rocking Grass, now returned to action with a new design. I may be posting a bit there as well in the future, when food-related topics strike me.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Feb. 5th, 2007 05:50 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

So we were having some trouble in the new residence with the plumbing. Namely, the toilet was backing up. This isn’t pleasant. We had a plumber, who’s a friend of the landlord’s, and familiar with the pipes, come out and look at it. He expected it to be a pretty simple job, since it had happened before, and was a fairly quick fix. So he scooted out into the back yard, pulled up a cover, and attacked the outlets of the junction there with a plunger. Nothing moving.

More tools, he said, and came back the following evening with same. He attacked it with such vigour that the tools (plumbing rods, with a plunger on the end, for those familiar) got stuck. Badly stuck, as in, he had to call a burly relative to come and help him extract it (I was stuck in work). He scratched his head a bit - as did I when I got back in the evening - and we tried to figure out what the hell could be wrong with it. Some water had come up through floor tiles in an unexpected part of the premises, so we figured that would be a good place to start the next time. Armed with that, and information from the landlord that there was a manhole cover in an alleyway behind the garden wall, we went at it on Saturday morning.

I met more neighbours in one morning there than I did in four years in Hollybank. We went in and out of alleys, people’s backyards, over walls, peering down into manholes and shores and vents, and learned more about the plumbing of Portobello than anyone should ever know. Nothing moving.

We pulled up the tiles where the water had come up, and some more tiles hidden under them, and some cracked tiles under that, and arrived at an unknown and buried vent. We plunged that and checked the outflow from various drainage systems, and tried to figure out what the hell was happening. There was clearly a connection between the cover at the back and this newly-excavated vent, because if you plunged the back yard one, the other bubbled and spat - but not vice versa. Water run into the new vent drained without trouble, and every single waste pipe in the place, except the toilet, was fine - but there was equally clearly no problem between the toilet and the underground plumbing.
On the verge of giving up, and muttering vengefully about Dynorod, compressors, and advanced spelunking, we wandered outside to poke once more at the original suspected source of the problem. One touch of the plunger, and suddenly, it began to flow, and was clear within seconds. Triumph!
It was aliens, mysterious Victorian sewage valves, or a masochistic plumbing system which just wanted to be beaten for a while. You choose.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Jan. 1st, 2007 03:14 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I’ve not been online much over the holidays, and when I have been on, I’ve mostly been engaging in PvP on World of Warcraft - there’s a post coming up on The Wizard of Duke Street about that soon.

The holidays started this year on the evening of the 21st, when Nina and I had our solstice dinner, a platter of smoked fish, artichoke hearts, and other goods, and exchanged presents. I got her some Waterford crystal, wine glasses and champage flutes, and a hamper of various good things. The guys in the place where I got the hamper gave me some funny looks when I wanted to add some WoW:TCG boosters to it, but I’ve never minded that. She got me the incredibly awesome Prince August 54mm Richard the Lionheart vs. Saladin cast-your-own chess set, and news of a booking for afternoon tea in the Ritz in London in February. The chess set is going to have to wait until we finish moving, but I keep taking the bits out and looking at them anyway.

The 22nd was the last day in work, and we finished up early to start drinking in advance of the company Christmas party, a dinner in One Pico, with entrance to the Sugar Club afterward. I bowed out of the clubbing, since we were flying at oh-dark-hundred the following morning. The meal was pretty good, and the boss made us all drink shots of tequila in salute to the Chicago Marketeer, who’s leaving us after four years to go back to the States and get married.

We got up early to head for the airport, and made it in good time - which was very necessary, as the queues were insane. We finally got to an Aer Lingus checkin desk, and while the luggage could be checked in all the way, we apparently couldn’t. We were told this was because the second flight in Hamburg wasn’t open yet. We shrugged slightly and went to find some breakfast, before boarding the plane, which took off about 20 minutes late. Twenty minutes at the other end, coupled with trying to find the transfer desk meant we arrived at the Finnair gate just after the plane had left. We went through the various bits of rigmarole necessary to figure out what to do next, and then settled down to wait through the nine hours until the next flight to Helsinki.

We dozed, and read, and had coffee, and bought papers, and ate (Bratwurst! Schnitzel!), and had coffee, and read some more, and eventually got on the plane, and arrived into Helsinki a bit before eleven at night local time. A bus ride to Lahti, and then we got a lift to Nina’s grandmother’s house from her mother. We collapsed, and slept the sleep of the very tired. I don’t recall whether the cats came to investigate us at all at that point; I’m not sure I would have noticed.

The next day was Christmas Eve, which is the day of the actual celebrations in Finland. There’s a well-established ritual to the day, and we went through each part of it in turn, between seeing visiting relatives, putting up and decorating the tree, going to the graveyards to place candles, saunaing, dinner and the opening of the presents from under the tree. I always find the Eve in Finland to be immensely pleasing - there’s a definite feeling of tradition about it, and traditions are one of the things I like most about the winter festivities. There’s also a definite feeling that it’s more a pagan tradition there than a Christian one.

I got some excellent presents, a very fine scarf, a meat hammer with an axe-head on the back, and a very very fine cast-iron frying pan. Having tried it since, I’m able to say it’s the best one I’ve ever used.

We had a couple more days in Finland, at Nina’s grandmother’s and mother’s houses, not doing very much at all, which was absolutely necessary, and then back to the airport at an even earlier hour for the return trip. We found out from the Finnair agent at the checkin desk in Helsinki that the problems on the way over were due to Aer Lingus cutting costs, and removing themselves from several of the cooperative arrangements between airlines - which essentially means that if Aer Lingus are any part of your journey, you can’t check all the way through, and there’s no information available to the other airlines about the Aer Lingus flights. Which meant, of course, that the reason the Finnair flight left without us is that they didn’t know we were on an incoming flight. We’ve one trip booked with Aer Lingus for February, but after that, we’re not going to be flying with them. If we want a budget airline, there’s Ryanair - the national carrier should be something more reliable.

There wasn’t any trouble on the way back, though, since we knew the layout of the airport this time and knew that there is no transfer desk; you go to the next gate and check in there. And we had some more time to work with on the schedule, and then the Finnair flight got in early.

That was the 27th, and after we got home, we spent the day relaxing and having visitors. The 28th was more of the same, with a great deal of World of Warcraft being played. Pauline arrived on the 29th, and since then, we’ve been doing more of the relaxing and eating out.

Last night was the Beaver Row household’s annual New Year’s barbecue, this year in black tie. And indeed, nearly everyone turned up in full black tie, which was very nice indeed. One gentleman even had a proper bow tie requiring tying. I’m always amused by the number of my tshirt-and-jeans-wearing geek friends who own formal wear as well. I must look into acquiring a cravat as well as learning the bow tie thing. And possibly a top hat.

This morning was an excellent start to the New Year, with a large breakfast in Hobart’s café with about eight or ten friends. We occupied a set of tables pulled together in the middle of the café, and I suspect the eventual bill was a wonder to behold. One kind person (not sure I’m allowed name names on that) had an expenses tab for the day for being on call, and put breakfast on it for all of us, which made it an even better start.

Now we’re taking care of various bits of mundane necessity before reconvening in Beaver Row to help dispose of the remaindered goods from last night, and generally relax. Back to work tomorrow, and I think I can deal with that.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Nov. 22nd, 2006 02:16 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

The new office, now that it has blinds and we can take down the cardboard radiation shields we needed (the southwest-ish curving wall is all glass) is getting better. There’s still a lot of white and steel around, though, leaving it looking very cold. We’re considering getting some plants in.

My immediate reaction is to look for a bonsai tree, but they’re hard to take care of. Anyone got any recommendations for something pleasantly leafy, which requires very little care, and won’t trigger allergies? We’ve a lemon geranium at home I could snag some cuttings from, but I know it’s a common allergy plant.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Oct. 31st, 2006 04:40 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

So it’s getting decently autumnal out there, and I’ve finally given up on the sleeveless jacket. However, I’d like to get a decent look at this autumn thing before it goes away, and therefore Nina and I are going to take a walk up the Dodder as far as Bushy Park this Sunday. You’re welcome to come along.

The plan is to leave the house at about 12:30, and walk down Sandford Road, then through Milltown to the Dodder. After that we’ll be following the north bank right down to Bushy Park, and poking around there for a while (there’s a peculiar little hexagonal folly in among the trees there). If we’re feeling energetic, we might walk back as well, and if not, public transport will be availed of.

It’s about a three, four mile walk, and most of it is right by the river. Anyone interested, drop a comment here, or turn up at the house at 12:30 on Sunday 5th of November. We’ll be trying to leave fairly well on time, but if you’re late, jog after us. :)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I’ve started writing up the account of the India trip. The first day’s worth is now available for your reading pleasure, transcribed from my travelling journal. Illustrations will follow later.


gothwalk: (Default)
( Oct. 17th, 2006 10:45 am)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

And indeed, where in this part of the city is good for lunch? There isn’t the same selection of sandwich and coffee shops as Dun Laoghire (or if there is, they’re cunningly concealed). The ideal is a baguette and coffee for five euros or under. A sandwich will do instead of a baguette, and other options will be considered. Somewhere I could sit down for an hour would also be useful, as eating in the office means eating at my desk; we don’t have the nice kitchen table from the old place.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

Operation Move completed successfully while I was away, and the new office seems to be entirely bearable. We’re in Harmony Court, on Harmony Row, which is about three blocks east of Pearse Street Station. Therefore, if any of you fine people are available for purposes of lunching (I believe I can meet employees of the Great AI somewhere halfway) in the area, do let me know. Within sane parameters, I can decide myself when lunch should occur, although appointments later than 13:30 are likely to include me staring silently and hungrily at you until food arrives. Usual contact methods apply - or since I have a very fine window seat, you could just stand outside and wave.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Oct. 13th, 2006 07:46 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

We’re back, alive. Very tired, and have acquired colds. Fantastic trip. More details when brain clears. If anything significant has happened in the last 18 days, please let me know, as there’s no way I can catch up on that length of LJ and blogs and such.

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

It’s 11:00 on a Monday morning, and I’m on the first actual day off of three weeks holidays. Tomorrow, at an hour so early it might as well be today, we’re flying via Schipol to India. This is the first break from work this year that’s more than two days, it’s the first time I’ve left the country in almost two years, and it’s the first time ever going to a place where I won’t necessarily recognise or understand anything. I’m really looking forward to it.

The last one might take some explanation - everywhere else I have ever been, there are some things I recognise. Trees, for instance, are not appreciably different in Finland, in the US, in France or Spain or Greece. Sure, there’s more cypress in Greece and less ash, but I still know what they are. I don’t expect to recognise any trees in India. Likewise, in all those places, a few brands carry across. In India, there’ll be stretches of time where even the omnipresent Coca-cola logo might not be seen for days. It might as well be another planet, and about the only things that will be the same will be the stars. It’s going to be great.

I’m reasonably confident of dealing with the temperatures. We’re looking at daytime temperatures of just under 40°C, and night temperatures hovering around 20°C. That’s a pretty huge drop, and I suspect the 20° might feel quite cold, relatively speaking.

We’ve a few days in Delhi before the tour proper starts, and the plan is to spend those days acclimatising, exploring Delhi, eating, and probably buying clothes, and music and books by the ton to post back. I gather from various sources that Delhi is a second-hand book paradise. We have two rucksacks, neither of which is currently more than half-full, so between what we can carry and what we can post back, we should rival a small import business. I intend to get a few nice statues of Ganesha as well - the little brass one that sits on my desk in work has done me nothing but good - and I suspect that a few more statues and devotional objects will find their way in as well.
The time difference is currently only four and a half hours - it should be about eight, but India has its own unique time zone. That’s going to do odd things to the sunrise and sunset times, but my maths - always prone to hiding when timezones come up - flees entirely when I try to work out what’s going to happen early or late.

We have both a digital and analogue camera with us. I can more or less work both of them, but I suspect Nina will be photographer-in-chief, as they cooperate far better with her. Expect very few pictures of us, and lots of scenery, buildings, and markets.

And there’s the food. Some of the guide books say not to buy from roadside stalls at all, only ever drink bottled water, and preferably bring all your food with you in non-perishable tablet form. I intend, within the bounds of common sense, to ignore all that. I like the Indian food we get here, and I’m damned if I’m going to travel eight thousand miles and not sample the food properly. Which means roadside stalls, markets, shops, restaurants, and whatever else comes my way.

I’ll be putting together a website when we get back, and we’ll be keeping journals while we’re away, so you’ll get as much detail as you ever wanted, and possibly more.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Sep. 19th, 2006 04:40 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

You all know I’m a weather buff by now. And one of the things I’m most fascinated by in the weather is the stuff that happens within a few days of the same date every year, regardless of what the rest of the weather is doing. One of these is the upturn in temperatures on Christmas Day (proving, at least in my mind, that the date was set by early medieval weather geeks). The other is the equinoctal storm, which happens twice a year, within the week of March and September 21. St. Patrick’s Day 1987 saw one of the worst storms I can remember, and now, coming up to September 21, we have… Hurricane Gordon.

From Metcheck:

Here are the probabilistic forecasts for the next 48 hours :- 1. Gordon has no interaction with the British Isles (5%) 2. Gordon splits in two late on Wednesday evening taking gales and heavy rain North into Southern Ireland which later spreads East into Western areas (60%) 3. Gordon retains central circulation affecting Western Ireland as a Tropical Storm (20%) 4. Gordon retains central circulation affecting Western England and the Irish Sea as a Tropical Storm (15%)

Better forecasts will be available tomorrow, but in any case, incoming storm.

(Yes, I know this is nothing for people in real hurricane areas. This is a big one from our point of view.)

gothwalk: (Default)
( Sep. 11th, 2006 08:06 am)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

On a gloomy Monday morning, it is a very good thing to have had a good weekend. And I had an excellent (birthday) weekend. HIghlights follow.
Very shortly after I woke up, Nina had placed two parcels and a card on the bed. One of the parcels was huge. Very careful unwrapping revealed Jimmy Doherty’s A Taste of the Country, a cookery book I’ve been eyeing for quite some time now, and… a lightbox. A lightbox is a timber frame with an opaque plastic pane on top, through which light from two bulbs underneath shines. It’s for tracing on thick paper. I have wanted one for ever for my mapmaking, and now I have one. It is the best thing ever, and I’ve already discovered a number of insanely clever things you can do when you can trace from one level to the next of a map. I intend to discover many, many more.
Then breakfast. Breakfast was the biggest fry in the world, cooked by Nina - bacon, egg, sausages, white & black pudding, mushrooms, beans, potato waffles, hash browns, toast, tomatoes - with apple juice and coffee. It was nothing short of superb.
Then, when I could contemplate food again, chocolate fudge cake and coffee.
I played MMOs pretty much non-stop all day, and then we went out to the pub with Dave, Glen and Bríd, for a very good evening out. Thence to Glen’s house, and eventually left there at after two in the morning, after intake of both whiskey and rum.
And then yesterday had the added bonus of the fish-and-chip dinner I wasn’t able to get in the pub the night before, and Niall dropping over to lend me his new copy of Ptolus.
It was an absolutely excellent birthday, and Nina is very much thanked for it. :)

gothwalk: (Default)
( Aug. 22nd, 2006 12:40 am)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

I used to have a love-hate relationship with insomnia. I used to hate being tired and unable to sleep, but I used to love the stuff I produced when I wrote in that state. Now nothing’s appearing, writing-wise, and I still can’t sleep. Here, for you edification, is a list of things I have done recently.

  • Produced an excellent Yorkshire Pudding
  • Eaten an excellent Apple Crumble
  • Started to download Anarchy Online to give it another try
  • Got a link to dukestreet from
  • Begun building a new area of my campaign world
  • Talked to a lot of people online about world building
  • Read a huge number of Doctor Who novelisations
  • Drawn some fine maps
  • Started doing a rather technical perspective drawing
  • Realised I need a t-square and some set-squares, and have neither

… and I’m still not sleepy.

gothwalk: (Default)
( Aug. 21st, 2006 01:25 pm)

Originally published at Now Is A Long Time Too. You can comment here or there.

So I finished one book at lunch, and didn’t have another to start. I poked through a few of the charity- and second-hand bookshops in Dun Laoghaire, and found: The D&D Red Box. I am a happy geek this afternoon.



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